Background

The Center’s first comparative federalism program was Urbanization in Federal Systems, begun in 1972 with a two-year grant from the U.S. Office of Education (USDOE) to establish a graduate program of Comparative Federal and Urban Studies. It focused on (1) ways in which intergovernmental relations and the distribution of power in federal systems influence urban policy and processes; (2) uses of federal principles in the management of urban systems; and (3) needs and demands that urbanization places on federalism in differing cultural and temporal contexts. Stephen Schechter was hired in 1972 to coordinate this program and other comparative and international programs.

In 1972 the Center also initiated an Inventory of federal systems by collecting information on all the special relationships of governments that borrow, incorporate, or are founded on federal principles. This research project was conducted in conjunction with research by Jaime Benitez, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico and former president of the University of Puerto Rico.

The Center’s first event on comparative federalism was a conference on “The Politics of Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems: Urban Perspectives,” Philadelphia, August 1973. There were comparative papers along with case studies on intergovernmental relations in Austria and West Germany, Canada, India, Malaysia, Switzerland, United States, and Yugoslavia. Some of the papers were presented at the CSF panel at the 1973 APSA meeting. Some of the papers were edited and published in Publius: The Journal of Federalism 5:2 (Spring 1975).

In 1975, the Center also began an effort to establish international partners and partnerships. The first was the Joint Center on Federal and Regional Studies founded in Switzerland in 1975. Then came the Jerusalem Institute for Federal Studies established in February 1977. Later that year, the Center co-founded the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies. For more on these and other organizations see Partnerships.

In November 1977, the Center hosted its first Dialogue on Comparative Federalism in a series of dialogues commemorating the Center’s tenth anniversary. Each dialogue began with key presentations summarizing recent research, raising important theoretical questions, and pointing to research needs. Lively discussion with participants followed and were transcribed verbatim.

For Daniel J. Elazar’s writings on comparative federalism, see Publications on this site and http://www.jcpa.org/dje/index-fs.htm

Activities

John Kincaid recently completed a project with the Forum of Federations on “Courts in Federal Systems,” which was funded principally by the government of Quebec. A key product of the project is:

Nicholas Aroney and John Kincaid, eds., Courts in Federal Systems: Federalists or Unitarists? Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017.

Dynamic De/Centralization in Federal Systems: Authors Meet Critics Session, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA, September 2, 2016.

Intergovernmental Interaction in Federal Systems. Panel co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Federalism with Division 28: Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, 2015.

Federalism’s Diverse Forms. Panel sponsored by the Center for the Study of Federalism at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, 2015.

Authority Migration in Federal Systems. Panel Co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Federalism with Division 28: Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, 2015.

From 2001 to 2016, the Center served as a key partner with the international Forum of Federations on a major program titled the “Global Dialogue on Federalism in the 21st Century,” which also was co-sponsored by the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies. The Center’s director, John Kincaid, originally proposed the program to the Forum and IACFS. During its lifetime, the program involved several thousand academics, practitioners, students, and citizens from most of the world’s federal countries in cross-national and intranational conferences, centers and dialogues focused especially on best practices. The program also generated the following books:

John Kincaid and G. Alan Tarr, eds., Constitutional Origins, Structure, and Change in Federal Countries. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005, 467 pp. ISBN 0-7735-2916-0 (Paperback)

Akhtar Majeed, Ronald L. Watts, and Douglas M. Brown, eds., Distribution of Powers and Responsibilities in Federal Countries. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006, 373 pp. ISBN 0-7735-3004-5 (Paperback)

Katy Le Roy and Cheryl Saunders, eds., Legislative Executive and Judicial Governance in Federal Countries. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006, 403 pp. ISBN 978-0-7735-3163-5 (Paperback)

Anwar Shah, ed., The Practice of Fiscal Federalism: Comparative Perspectives. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007, 438 pp. ISBN 978-0-7735-3302-2 (Paper)

Hans Michelmann, ed., Foreign Relations in Federal Countries. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009, 413 pp. ISBN 978-0-7735-3502-2 (Paperback)

Nico Steytler, ed., Local Government and Metropolitan Regions in Federal Systems. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2009, 464 pp. ISBN 978-0-7735-3563-3 (Paperback)

Luis Moreno and César Colino, eds., Diversity and Unity in Federal Countries. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010, 431 pp. ISBN 978-0-7735-3739-2 (Paperback)

Johanne Poirier, Cheryl Saunders, and John Kincaid, eds. Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems: Comparative Structures and Dynamics. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2015, 511 pp. ISBN-13: 978-019-902226-7 (Hardback)

Klaus Detterbeck, Wolfgang Renzsch, and John Kincaid, eds. Political Parties and Civil Society in Federal Countries. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press Canada, 2015, 330 pp. ISBN-13: 978-019-902227-4 (Hardback)

For a description of the Forum, see http://www.forumfed.org/ and The Federalism Report 24:1-2 (Spring-Summer 2001): 8 – 11, and 19; and 25:3-4 (Summer/Fall 2002): 7 – 8.

“Federalism and the Global Financial Crisis: Impacts and Responses.” Annual meeting of the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies, Philadelphia, PA, co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Federalism at the Meyner Center for the Study of State and Local Government with the Center for State Constitutional Studies at Rutgers University, Camden, September 16-18, 2010.

Workshop on “The Distribution of Powers and Responsibilities in Federal Polities,” Temple University, June 6-7, 2003.

The Center joined with Companheiros das Americas, Comite Bahia-Pennsylvania to co-sponsor a conference on “Mercosul, NAFTA, and European Union: Juridical, Political, and Economic Aspects of Integration on Three Continents,” Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, August 1996.

“From Statism to Federalism: The New International Relations” was the theme for the 1995 annual meeting of the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS) hosted by the Center in September in Philadelphia, PA.

The Confederation Project directed by Daniel J. Elazar began in 1992 to examine the role confederal arrangements play, especially in reducing conflicts in ethnically diverse regions. The Center also convened consultative sessions in April 1994 in Fribourg, Switzerland, in conjunction with IACSF meeting.

The Center hosted a conference on “Federalism and Rights” in Philadelphia funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and co-sponsored by the U.S. Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR), the Philadelphia Bar Association, and Rutgers University, Camden. See also “Rights in America’s Constitutional Traditions,” Publius: The Journal of Federalism 22, 2 (Spring 1992) and Ellis Katz and G. Alan Tarr, eds., Federalism and Rights. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996.

In 1992, the Center began its Public Agenda Series to commemorate its 25th anniversary focusing on international aspects of federalism and confederal arrangements.

“The Swiss Experience with Federal Liberty,” a conference marking that confederation’s 700th anniversary, held in Brunnen, Switzerland, sponsored by the Liberty Fund, 1992. Revised conference papers were published in Publius: The Journal of Federalism 23:2 (Spring 1993).

“Federalism and the Turn to Democracy,” a conference in 1990/1991 on the federalist revolution in Eastern Europe and Latin America.

“Confederation as a Renewed Federal Option,” a conference in 1990/1991 on the European Community, other international organizations, and Yugoslavia.

“Federalism and Aboriginal and Indian Questions,” a conference in 1990/1991 on federal laws, policies, and services regarding domestic dependent nations and the politics of those relationships.

Collaborative research under the auspices of the International Association of Centers for Federal Studies (IACFS) developing an inventory of federal systems, a comparative bibliography of federalism, and various other cross-cultural projects during the 1990s.